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Local Scandal’s Potential Fallout

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It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach that people would point at Dave Reichert, after 33 years in the King County Sheriffs Office, almost losing my life, he told the paper last August. To have someone even ask that question of me, its offensive, very offensive.

Washington State Republican Party Chairwoman Diane Tebelius, who vied with Reichert for the Republican nomination two years ago, said any allegations that Reichert was a bad sheriff are ridiculous.

Instead of trying to dish up dirty things about someone, why dont they try to find reasons to vote for Darcy Burner? Tebelius asked, referring to Reicherts Democratic challenger. There is none. As long as there is none, Dave Reichert is going to do just fine.

State Sen. Luke Esser, who also lost to Reichert in the Republican primary in the previous cycle, said using the sheriffs departments woes as campaign fodder will not work.

More people call him Sheriff Reichert than Congressman Reichert, Esser said. In peoples minds hes still, and always will be, the sheriff. Its a lifetime title for him.

Stuart Elway, an independent Seattle-based pollster, said he does not see the issue gaining steam.

I dont have a sense that its going to have much of an impact one way or another, Elway said. It seems the issue is fading.

Furthermore, Elway said the details are too murky and complicated.

It looks like it would have potential for an opponent, but its one of those things that its a hard case to make, Elway said. Administration of the office its not the kind of thing that sets people on fire.

A national Democratic operative strongly disagreed.

Hes looking at front-page investigative pieces in his district saying he ran a corrupt office and ignored his oversight duties, the source, who did not want to be named, said. In an election year that is largely about credibility and honest leadership, these are two huge vulnerabilities.

In one article, an FBI agent questioned the management of the sheriffs office.

Whats this group doing down there? the agent was quoted as asking. Whos in charge? Wheres the accountability?

Last December the paper wrote: A few weeks before that, two sheriffs commanders also recommended [a deputy] be fired for breaking department rules. Instead, Reichert then in the midst of a hot Congressional campaign allowed [the officer] to quietly slip into retirement about two weeks later, records show.

Feit said the allegations could hurt Reicherts re-election.

He won because he was the broad-shouldered sheriff, protector of the public, and this would turn that strength into a liability, he said.

But it remains to be seen if such a strategy would work, Feit said.

Will it have traction? he asked. I dont know.

For now Reicherts campaign spokeswoman said the allegations are the furthest thing from the Congressmans mind.

We are not focused on comments from outside sources or from opponents, said the spokeswoman, Carol Beaudu. We are totally 100 percent focused on Daves re-election effort. Our fundraising is strong, our grass-roots effort is strong ... Dave is focused on his job as Congressman and representing the 8th district.

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